By Keith Ingham
The Hull City game saw a 2-0 defeat for Leeds ending the year on a decidedly low note. Not the result but another poor performance in front of the thousands that regularly follow the team away.
2012 will not be a year, football wise I'll look back with a lot of fondness. High ticket prices still proving to be the thorn in most fans paws and Ken Bates and his lawsuits and propaganda pages in the clubs 100 page but £4 programme were just a few of the reasons why some fans decided shopping with the wife and children was better than the fare on offer in Leeds 11.
The year started with a win v Burnley, Ross McCormack deep in injury time.. Then another trip to London, Henry broke Leeds hearts with a late goal on his return to Arsenal. In February Simon Grayson departed after a 4-1 home defeat. I myself consider him to be unlucky as if he had been backed a year or so in the transfer market in January we would have made the Playoffs instead of seventh. His ratio of 50%+ wins is still up there with the best of all managers who have had the 'hot seat' at Elland Road.
Neil Redfearn took charge for three games before Neil Warnock was installed the day before the Doncaster game. His Half Time team talk helped inspire the team to secure a late, late win, Becchio getting the goal in the nine minutes of injury time played.
March brought to me the lowest points of 2012, a humiliation at the hands of Forest at home, 7-3 was a really bitter pill to swallow at least we beat MILLSCUM at their ground to lift the spirits. April brought defeats by Derby and Leicester, the eleventh team to leave Leeds 11 with all three points, surely that in itself is why the 2011/12 season on the football side is not one we as fans will remember fondly.
May brought the news that 'investors' had had a look around and the possibility of Ken Bates leaving was first mentioned, even though very quietly. The summer months brought in a influx of ex Portsmouth
players; 'Andy Andy Gray' and a new youngster was mentioned, step forward Sam Byram, a player who grabbed first team football and has not looked back since. Robert Snodgrass left to our parent club Norwich after realising that the Chairman's promises of better players were in a word - LIES !
August brought optimism, the Takeover was mentioned as a real possibility and an opening victory over relegated Wolves sent the fans home happy. Around this time the letter GFH Capital became known, a Middle East bank so we heard this sent message boards into meltdown and hopes were high that we could at least get a 'wow' signing before the deadline, many were mentioned, none bought.
September brought my first visit to the holy trinity, I was asked to join Thom and Eddie in the commentary box and although we started well, a fast midfield got Hull the points. Good wins v Forest, Bristol and Barnsley saw us in a decent place come another international break in the first week of October. From there on the month was awful, seven games without a win including a 6-1 hammering by Watford, although we were down to nine men thanks to Neil Warnock's inspirational substitutions at half time and when Rodolph went down injured we played the rest of the game a man short. The terrible run ended with a great performance against Palace, making it a week to remember when GFH Capital finally announced it was taking over the club, for a month Ken would help them 'settle' into their new club.
The final deal was to be completed on 21st of December but with Ken staying on as Chairman until May, then become Club President from then on. Gone but not gone if that makes sense. They even got a couple of new players in on loan deadline day. Alan Tate and a winger Jerome Thomas. That month we remembered Gary Speed, one year on from his sad passing. On eleven minutes 'One Gary Speed' was heard from every corner of Elland Road, a lump in the throat turned to tears as I remembered 'Our Gary' and as if he wished it we won, on a Tuesday and beating Leicester. Such a night stays with you for life, It will with me. We even beat Huddersfield, at their spot, a thing we'd not done since the sixties, it also made it three on the 'bounce' and we'd not done that for a while.
December the run ended at Derby as they wanted it more than we did, but we beat a unbeaten Ipswich and even better Middlesborough who were in the top three before the wheels fell well and truly off at Forest and Dull.
So there you have it, twelve months of hopes turned into ashes, we can only pray that 2013 with a bit of proper money to spend in January can put this fantastic club that I and other fans love so much on the road to a prosperous new future.
On On On and Upwards!!
This is the first of our new webpoll feature, and have decided to ask the question that everyone seems to be talking about following the last few results.
Is Neil Warnock the man to take us forward?
Recent results and more worringly performances have been quite poor, and tactical descisions questionable. The managers record speaks for itself, but with him only staying with us until the end of the season will our new owners give him the funds required to build for the future and take us forward?
Please vote below and feel free to leave your comments... MOT
We just wanted to take this opportunity to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and thankyou for your continued support.
Would also like to say a big thankyou to everyone that has contributed to our website over the past year, as without you we would not be where we are now...
Hope you all have a great Christmas, and that we can celebrate three points on Boxing Day... MOT!
We All Love Leeds
By Mike Courtney
Looks like being a very happy Christmas over at Elland Road. Five wins out of six in the league since the takeover was finally announced in November, 25k at match yesterday, Becchio on fire, only 2 points off a playoff spot and money in the bank to spend in January.
Cast your mind back to the 18th of November as we
were coming off the back of 3 defeats in a row and no win in 7 League games as we drifted precariously close to the relegation spots and the takeover saga dragging on and on. Who would have thought we'd be where we are now.
The announcement of the takeover definitely gave the whole club a massive boost and the response of the players since has exceeded even the most optimistic fans, myself included, expectations. Ok some of the performances might not have been great and we were probably lucky to get maximum points in some of those games, yesterday included, but what the team have shown is a battling never say die
attitude that has seen us pick up points in games we would surely have dropped prior to the takeover being ratified.
The stand out performer for me in this six game run has most definitely been Luciano Becchio. Not just his goals, six in six and that's not counting his goal against Chelsea, but his all round performance, hold up play and desire to get on the end of crosses and get in where it hurts. I must be honest here. At the start of the season I was not convinced that Becchio was the man to lead the line and get us the goals needed to drive us on to promotion. I felt we needed a fox in the box type out and out goal poacher like Charlie Austin or Billy Sharp. But his performances since the takeover and the quality of his finishing and in particular the header against Huddersfield, the finish against Chelsea and his first goal yesterday have proved me wrong and you can't argue with his strike rate this season. His performances are now attracting the attention of premier league clubs and if we don't get him signed to a long term deal shortly we could very well lose him like we lost Beckford, Max, Snoddy and Howson. For me this is the most important signing that Warnock and GFH need to get done.
On that topic I see that we are linked with Ricky Lambert in the Sunday Papers. Without a doubt he is a proven striker at this level and his goal scoring ability would be a great addition to the squad but he is a Becchio type player and playing both would mean dropping Diouf. I'm just not sure that this is the priority at present as we also have Somma back from injury and McCormack not getting a look in at the
moment. I think the area we need to strengthen is the left side of the team. Peltier is not a left back and if Warnock doesn't have confidence in Drury or White to play left back then we need some one in there straight away. This would free up Peltier to play in his best position, right back, and allow our other stand out performer this season Sam Byram to move up to right side of midfield, like what happened yesterday, and give us an extra attacking option.
We will also probably lose Jerome Thomas when his initial loan spell finishes so we need an attacking option on the left, someone with pace and flair and who can also chip in with a few goals. Mad Max is the obvious choice but I can't see him coming back unless we are in the top flight so Adam Hamill or Robbie Brady are just two names I'll throw out there. A creative central midfielder would also be on my wish list and getting Tate and Tonge back full time would complete the jigsaw and give us a squad capable of getting us promotion.
So as we move onto two tough away fixtures all that remains is for me to wish all you Leeds United supporters and your families a Happy and Peaceful Christmas and a Prosperous New Year.
MOT Leeds Leeds Leeds
By Keith Ingham
Leeds came back from a goal down to beat Middlesborough and a brace from Luciano Becchio put him into the top ten of Leeds United goal scorers, passing his former team mate Jermaine Beckford. A remarkable achievement by a much maligned player.
Neil Warnock made three changes to the side beaten in the cup, with Kenny, Tate and Norris returning. I do feel Michael Brown was unlucky to miss out as he had a good game v Chelsea. Michael Tonge made his last appearance before returning to Stoke.
The torrential rain beforehand made conditions tricky but Boro settled early and had the better of the early exchanges. Emnes tried his luck but was wide with his effort. Michael Tonge had a free kick blocked for Leeds' first effort and Sam Byram forced Steele to save smartly on twenty minutes, but it was Middlesbrough who took the lead on thirty minutes when Julkiewicz forced the ball home after his first attempt was blocked. A really scruffy goal and a bad one from the defence to gift. Leeds came back through with both Byram and Thomas going close before a cross was superbly converted by the inform Becchio. A fantastic goal by the Leeds number ten. Goal of the season so far ?
Leeds had to change things around after Half time, the ill Green replaced by White. Byram went into midfield, Peltier went to right back and White to left back. Round pegs into round holes may I say!
Early in the second half Emnes and Smallwood came close to giving Boro the lead, Kenny saved well from the latter. Diouf also went close for Leeds. With twenty minutes remaining Davide Somma replaced Thomas making his first appearance since May 2011, he received a great welcome as he entered play. Neil Warnock said in his post match interview it was like signing a new player.
Leeds grabbed two corners in succession and from the second Diouf sent it over and Becchio leaped highest to score past Steele with the aid of a deflection. With time nearly up Emnes sent a shot wide, it was their last chance.
Five wins out of six is a great achievement considering that Leeds were looking anxiously over their shoulders prior to this impressive run.
Confidence is high amongst the fans and David Haigh and Salem Patel must be pleased with their new acquisition. Especially looking at the Championship league table, Leeds sit in eighth only two points from the top six. Although the quality of this side can be questioned, it's commitment can't.
Man of the Match: Luciano Becchio for his two goals, especially his first 'worldly' but Sam Byram wasn't far behind him. This young man needs to be kept whatever changes are forthcoming. The best player to come out of the academy since Delph, in my opinion.
Fans: A great turn out, 25,000+ before Christmas shows increased belief in and around the club. Quiet early on but warmed up after Becchio's goal 7/10
Team: They don't give in but the defence gave a poor goal away.
Merry Christmas everybody
On On On
By Mike Courtney
Twas the night before Takeover, when all through the place not a creature was stirring, not even Ken Bates. The scarfs were hung round King Billy with care, In hopes the GFH soon would be there.The fans were nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of Elland Road danced in their heads.
And Haigh in his Jersey and Neil with his hat, had just settled down for a long winters chat. When outside on the pitch there arose such a clatter, Neil sprang from his chair to see what was the matter. Away to the window he flew like a flash, tore open the shutters and threw up the sash. The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow, gave a lustre of midday to objects below. When what to my wondering eyes should bestow, but a great big white Merc in the car park below.
With a little old driver we all love to hate, He knew in a moment it must be Ken Bates. More rapid than weasels his entourage they came and he whistled and shouted and called them by name. Now Blackie Now Wisey Now Macca Now Larry, On Colin on Lorimer On Allen On Harvey. From the top of the League to mid table we fall, now dash away dash away dash away all.
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly, when they meet with an obstacle mount to the sky. So up to the top of the East Stand they flew, with a wad full of cash and Papa Smurf Too. And then in a
twinkling was heard on the roof, the prancing and pawing of the chairman aloof. As Neil drew in his head and was turning around, down the chimney came Old Bates with a bound. He was dressed all in fur from his head to his foot and his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot. A bundle of cash he had clasped in his fist and he looked like a banker out on the piss.
His eyes how they twinkled, his dimples how merry, his cheeks were like roses he was definitely at the Sherry. His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow, and the beard on his chin was as white as the snow. The stump of a cigar he held in his teeth and the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath. He had a round face and a little round belly, that shook when he laughed like a bowl full of jelly. He was chubby and plump a right jolly old Git and a face with your fist you would just love to hit.
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head, soon gave us to know we had a lot to dread. He spoke not a word but went straight to work and filled up his pockets then turned like a jerk. And he lay a finger aside to his nose then gave a nod and up the chimney he rose. He hopped in his Merc and gave his team the
finger and away he drove without pausing to linger. But he was heard to exclaim as he drove out of sight, I've screwed ye again Leeds and I don't give a Shite.
MOT Leeds Leeds Leeds
By Rob Atkinson
Let me start out by saying this: There is a place in football for
hate. That might seem a rather provocative, not to say controversial statement, in these happy-clappy days when going to the match is supposed to be all about families, and fun, and oompah bands high up in the stands, strategically placed so that the newly-gentrified population of the main stand should not have to hear anything raucous or profane.
But it’s true, nevertheless. Football is tribal, football is catharsis, football is where you get to let off some steam after gritting your teeth all week. And, for all of that, you need someone to hate.
Hate is a much misunderstood, possibly demonised word these days. It’s not really to be found in the lexicon of the politically correct. It sends out the wrong message, don’t you know, and speaks of the extreme edges of emotion and feeling, where those of pallid personalities do not wish to go. But hate is a real human emotion, and you can’t simply wish, or indeed legislate it away. Properly expressed, it’s just about the best catalyst for atmosphere at a good old traditional sporting fixture.
The professionals should stay out of it, and get on with the game – it’s not really within their remit to get caught up in the atmosphere a bit of hate generates (although it’s frequently more entertaining than the football when teams DO let the passion affect them). But the real arena is in the stands, or on the terraces as we used to say in happier times. Here is where the mutual dislike, felt in extreme measure in some cases, can be vented. Two sets of supporters, bound by mutual loathing, hurl insults of glorious vulgarity back and forth, each seeking to outdo the other in a contest outside of the on-field engagement. The feeling is atavistic, and there’s no actual need for it to spill over into violence for honour to be satisfied. The occasion as a whole is enhanced by these pieces of human theatre.
The modern tendency towards crowd interaction being drowned out by super-powerful P.A. systems pumping out crap music, has detracted from this phenomenon, as have the silly drums and trumpets they call “bands”. My club, Leeds United, made an ill-advised decision a few years back to promote a
“band”, but the masses behind the goal did not approve. The occasional toot and drum beat were heard, only to be swiftly squashed by a throaty “stand up, if you hate the band”, and the experiment died an early death. Rightly so, too. Bands at football stadia prosper only where the indigenous support lacks the moral fibre to resist such contrived attempts at a “nice” atmosphere.
Sadly, it appears that the good old days of free expression, where a band of like-minded fanatics could express their hatred of “that lot from over t’hill”, are soon to be behind us for good. Yet there are still football clubs and fixtures which can conjure up some of the old atmosphere, so deeply do feelings run. I’m glad to say that my beloved Leeds United is one such club, so universally hated by so many other sets of fans, and so willingly disposed to return that sentiment with interest, that our matches against a select band of old enemies roll back the years, and set the blood pumping with the old vigour. Long may it remain the case – these are the real football clubs, with the real fans, and this minority is striving to hold back the tide of plastic, family orientated, artificial bonhomie that so threatens to dull the palate as this century progresses.
It’s not P.C. It’s frowned upon by the self-appointed guardians of “the good of the game”. It too often spills over into actual violence, which is not something to be condoned. But come the day when they finally kill the last wisp of hate-fuelled atmosphere, at the last old dinosaur of a non-modern non-meccano stadium, they’ll be well on the way to finally reading the last rites over the corpse of the game as we used to know it.
And then – why, I’ll throw in the towel, say my goodbyes to Elland Road, and sulk off to watch Frickley Athletic play those buggers from FC United of Manchester – confident that there will be some like-minded old codgers on both sides who will be happy to spit venom at each other – just for old times’
By Andy Gregory
Name: Josh Grainger
Tell us a bit about yourself:
I’m 17 and live in Newcastle so don’t get to as many games as I’d like, but hoping to study Journalism at Leeds met next year, so hopefully then could get a season ticket! Also write for the site.
How long have you supported Leeds?
I could say all my life, but I really only got to love football about the age of 8. My first game was against Chelsea at Elland Road, in 2000, we lost 1-0. Whilst I remember my day out for this game, the football was far too complicated for someone of my age, this was shown by the fact that I thought Nigel Martyn
played for Chelsea. I remember Leeds v Everton a season or two after, in which a certain Wayne Rooney scored a late winner. I only really grew to love Leeds when we were relegated to the league 1, since then it has been the obsession that it is to many Leeds fans.
What is your favourite memory?
It has to be between one of three. The first was beating Arsenal 3-2 to avoid relegation, however again I didn’t really have the love for football at that time. I was fortunate enough to be in the away end on January 3rd, but I’d say the Bristol Rovers match was my favourite memory, simply because of the heart break we’d suffered in the play-offs the previous years.
Favourite player past and present?
Alan Smith. I am a firm believer that he left Leeds to save the club, and whilst I would no longer have him back because his ability has worsened, his Leeds born and bred style was something to be treasured. I used to like Ian Harte and Michael Bridges when I was younger but I don’t know if I had any reasoning. More recently, I really liked Kilgallon when he was
here, however Max Gradel and Jermaine Beckford have been the recent two heroes, who I would both happily have back.
If you could bring a player from any era back to the club, who would it be and why?
I feel I should say someone like Billy Bremner, however I never saw him play live, just on various video’s. I’d say either David Batty or Jermaine Beckford.
Best goal scored by a Leeds player?
Yeboah’s goals against Wimbledon and Liverpool were something else, more recently Bradley Johnson’s against Arsenal or Ross McCormack’s overhead kick against Doncaster.
How would you sum up our season so far?
I think we all lulled ourselves up into a false sense of securirty before the season began, we all thought the players we’d signed might just be enough to take us up, but really it was a bit of a pipedream. I think we’ve done alright, but have lacked flair, however Thomas has brought this in recent weeks. Still
though, it’s painful to say but I think our League 1 promotion winning team, would beat this current one.